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A group of Lincoln residents are working with Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament to bring a skatepark to the area.

Lincoln sits right next to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and some of the best backcountry skiing in the state, but isn't really known for its skating culture. That's something Phil Reed is hoping to challenge.

"The community has really jumped in and wanted to get involved," Reed said.

Reed, an English teacher at Lincoln High School ("I am the English department here" Reed said. "We're a small school.") has been working with a group of 15 students to fundraise for the new skatepark.

"Right now we've raised about $7,000 or $8,000," Reed said. "We're hoping to get to anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000."

The opportunity for the community to come together is one of the key aspects behind the skatepark. 

"I think that people take a lot of pride in their communities, and there's an opportunity to really do something for the community and improve it," Reed said. 

Along with bake sales, car washes, bike rallies, lawn mowing and dinners, Reed hopes future fundraising will grow organically as the clock counts down to next summer, when construction on the Lincoln skatepark will hopefully begin in earnest.

"Jeff will match up to $100,000," Reed said. "And we're looking at some other grant opportunities."

Lincoln's planned skatepark will be the 24th park structure built with help from Ament's Montana Pool Service foundation, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy Foundation and Evergreen Skateparks. 

"Jeff Ament is a local legend," Reed said. 

Raised in Big Sandy, Ament didn't necessarily have a "Lords of Dogtown" set of empty suburban pools where he could practice skating, but at one point he did have the biggest ramp in northeastern Montana. He picked up his love of skating as a kid and has been focused on helping small towns like Lincoln gain world-class parks because of his connection to both small-town Montana and skating culture.

Ament doesn't plan to stop his efforts anytime soon. 

"I'll do it until the band breaks up or Montana folks get sick of me," he said.

Ament said Lincoln was chosen because of its distance from other Montana skateparks and because Reed and Lincoln Public Schools reached out. 

"Skateparks are replacing tennis courts all over the country," he said. 

And he has a long list of other towns that are on the list for future parks: "Shelby, Miles City, Libby, Hardin, Philipsburg ... a proper bowl in Billings, Ronan, you get the picture," Ament said.

Ament hopes the new park will get kids and "brave adults" out in the fresh air to focus on getting "radical."

He believes that people will be coming back to rural communities sooner rather than later, so giving those communities attention is a forward-thinking action. That and he loves rural Montana.

"My heart beats steady in these big open spaces," Ament said. 

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Crime and Health Reporter

Crime and health reporter for the Helena Independent Record.

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